In this month’s article, I will be bringing awareness to a very important social issue of homelessness which is impacting many major cities across our nation. I will specifically discuss how the Houston Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team (H.O.T) actively provides the necessary resources to homeless individuals in effort to get them of living on the streets.
I am proud to mention that our HOT team is by far the top in the nation when it comes to innovative methods of relational policing. The outstanding success stories they have been a part of shows what an exemplary team they are in reducing the homeless population in the City of Houston. They truly care and want to make a difference.
The Houston Police Department Homeless Outreach works to connect individuals in the homeless community of Houston to needed resources with the goal of helping them find permanent housing. Our Homeless Outreach Team is a group of specialized officers and mental health coordinators that engage in the homeless communities to offer shelter, aid, and any other assistance they may need. On average, this team meets with approximately 800-900 individuals a month.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeless & Urban Development research, it takes approximately $41,000.00 a year to take “care” of a homeless individual. Should that same person be housed, it only costs approximately $17,000.00 a year. That being said, our HOT team housed 133 individuals in 2020, saving our community approximately 3.19 million dollars!
The HOT team can be seen under freeways, in the woods, at shelters, and on the Houston sidewalks and streets working with the homeless to try to find the root cause of their homelessness and get them the needed resources such as medical, housing, and any other social services that would be beneficial to them. The HOT team and care coordinators will also follow up to ensure they are linked to specific programs in hopes of keeping them on the right path to success.
In 2020, there were over 6,000 services offered to individuals that include detox, rehab, shelter, and transitional housing. Only 32% of services offered were accepted by homeless individuals. This is why it is important to have these specialized officers develop a rapport and trust among these individuals. Persistence is the key to success. Our HOT team also has a program to which they have issued over 2,000 “HOT Identifications”. The purpose of these Identifications is to assist this population in getting the proper services, as it is difficult to proceed without the proper documentation.
If you have any questions in regards to our HOT team, please call the Houston Police Department’s Mental Health Division at 832-394-4200 and we will be happy to assistance you. You can also learn more about our Division at our website: www.houstoncit.org